If you look at the Detroit Red Wings’ roster of players this season, and take the 15-game sample size we currently have, one thing stands out; Jimmy Howard has been unreal.
The Red Wings have bounced back from an 0-5-2 start to the 2018-19 season for a current 5-8-2 record, including wins in four of their last five games. A lot of this is due to the strong play of Howard, who’s currently 3-0-0 in this last three starts. (2.59 GAA, .925 SVP) Howard’s stats overall this year aren’t spectacular at 2.93 GAA and .917 save percentage, but this belies his real performance this year.
He’s played behind a decimated defense to start the year; a defense that saw four rookies make their NHL debuts on Opening Night. And now that the defense is healthy, it’s a mix of past-prime veterans and skilled veterans showing the newcomers the ropes. Howard has kept the Red Wings in many games and given them chances to win by facing upwards of 40+ shots a night in some cases. This fact is not lost on players like the Red Wings own Gustav Nyquist.
“I would say so for sure [Howard has been the most consistent player],” Nyquist said following Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Little Caesars Arena. “It’s hard to argue that, the way he’s playing. Every game he’s given us a chance to win, so that’s huge for us.”
Red Wings veteran Justin Abdelkader shares the same sentiment on Howard’s play.
“Jimmy’s been playing great all year,” Justin Abdelkader said. “He’s making some big saves and bailing us out when we need him. We just got to continue to do a good job in front of him and try to be in lanes and block shots and clean up rebounds, because a lot of times he’s so good at making that first save.”
The brass in the Red Wings’ office have taken notice. Word is that Howard is expected to receive a contract extension before the season is out. He’s in the final year of his current contract (six years at $5.29m/year) and with the play this season of Detroit backup netminder Jonathan Bernier, (1-3-0, 4.21 GAA, .873 SVP), and the Red Wings’ lack of NHL-ready goalie prospects, there’s a really good chance they won’t be moving Howard anywhere for the foreseeable future.
Howard will be 35 years old in March, making any future deal a 35+ contract for the netminder. This means that even if Jimmy does not play out the rest of his future deal and retires or is bought out, the cap hit will continue to count against the Red Wings’ salary cap until the expiration of his deal. This means Red Wings GM Ken Holland will have to be very careful in evaluating Howard’s play and longevity moving forward.
UNPOPULAR OPINION: Fans only hate Jimmy Howard, because he’s not Chris Osgood
Yeah, that’s right, I said it.
For years now, basically for as long as Jimmy Howard has been starting goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings, we’ve heard it after almost every loss. Heard it, read it, debated it, and gotten tired of it. There’s always a handful in the crowd.
“Thanks, Howard! Get rid of him already! Garbage goaltender!”
We’ve all at least once had an interaction like the one pictured above. Why does this kind of blind hate happen? Let’s go way back.
To view the rest of this content, follow the link below!